Is takeout worth the trash? How to minimize your foodie footprint

About once a week, I'm too exhausted, too busy or just too lazy to cook. I'm sure most of you know the feeling.

But my options around my office building are limited, despite working on a busy thoroughfare. Among my priorities for takeout: Healthy, relatively cheap, quick ... and easy on the packaging.

Not surprisingly, it's not that easy to find places that meet all my criteria. That's probably why I BYO lunch as much as possible ...

For example, I love Thai and Chinese food. And I realize that it leaks sometimes. But Stryofoam or paper within plastic within a paper bag within another plastic bag is way too hard to get into. I need my food ASAP — and I appreciate it when the garbage from takeout doesn't fill the entire trash can.

So, I've managed to make my takeout places of choice do it my way.

At Subway and Chipotle, my usual go-to spots, I turn down the extra plastic/paper bags and instead carry my efficiently wrapped meal out the door sans handles. At least Chipotle's are paper and not plastic, but the bag generally ends up being three times the size of my food anyway.

I do the same at Corner Bakery, and if I had any foresight on those crazy days I'm eating out, I'd try bringing my own container for my food. Though I wonder how that works with to-go items, as opposed to leftovers? And if my bag is big enough, I sometimes rescue the plastic container my sandwich comes in and reuse it once for leftovers or to send home goodies with people who aren't good at returning Tupperware.

And since I stash plastic forks, spoons and knives in my desk (washed and reused again, of course), I avoid grabbing any on my way out the door. Same goes for paper napkins.

Takeout that comes in containers with lids are always good for at least another few uses — even if you're not using them for food.

If you can, walking or biking to pick up food is a more eco-friendly, and calorie-burning, way to pick up your food, too.

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